When we hear God’s word, we must be careful to hear it correctly. There is a possibility of listening or reading God’s word and it not bearing fruit in our lives because we listened to it or read it incorrectly. Look at two passages from Ezekiel and Hebrews, which shows us the importance of welcoming in (receiving) God’s word in faith.
"Moreover he said unto me, Son of man, all my words that I shall speak unto thee receive in thine heart, and hear with thine ears." [Ezek 3:10] "Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world." [Heb 4:1-3]
It is not enough to just hear God’s words but we need also to receive them. To receive them into our hearts by faith. This is symbolized by Ezekiel eating the roll of God’s words: “Moreover he said unto me, Son of man, eat that thou findest; eat this roll, and go speak unto the house of Israel. So I opened my mouth, and he caused me to eat that roll. And He said unto me, Son of man, cause thy belly to eat, and fill thy bowels with this roll that I give thee…” [Ezek 3:1-3a]
God’s word brings fruit and profit in our lives when we not only hear it but also believe it. That is productive hearing. “For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.” [1 Thess 2:13] And Jesus tells us that those who will bring forth fruit “…in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.” [Lk 8:15]
Jesus, in His prayer to The Father, mentions this fact, that the disciples believed Jesus’ words were The Fathers and as a result received them. He says,
"I have manifested Thy Name unto the men which thou gavest Me out of the world: Thine they were, and Thou gavest them Me; and they have kept Thy word. Now they have known that all things whatsoever Thou hast given Me are of Thee. For I have given them the words which Thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from Thee, and they have believed that Thou didst send Me." [Jn 17:6-8]
We must be like the Bereans, who, “were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” [Acts 17:11] We must receive the word with an open mind in faith. And then on top of that, study! “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” [2 Tim 2:15]
The Israelites didn’t hearken to Ezekiel’s words, unfortunately. They were hard-hearted, hardened against God’s word, not able to receive it in faith. God says a few verses earlier, “But the house of Israel will not hearken unto thee; for they will not hearken unto me: for all the house of Israel are impudent and hardhearted.” [Ezek 3:7] Nor did they listen to Isaiah, they had fattened hearts not able to absorb God’s word; clogged ears not able to hear; and blind eyes not able to see the Truth. God tells Isaiah,
"And He said, Go, and tell this people, hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed." [Isa 6:9-10]
The same thing happens with Jeremiah as well: the Israelites refused to listen. He tells Israel,
"From the thirteenth year of Josiah the son of Amon king of Judah, even unto this day, that is the three and twentieth year, the word of The LORD hath come unto me, and I have spoken unto you, rising early and speaking; but ye have not hearkened. And The LORD hath sent unto you all His servants the prophets, rising early and sending them; but ye have not hearkened, nor inclined your ear to hear." [Jer 25:3-4]
The Israelites didn’t listen to the prophets. They hardened their hearts time and time again and because of this, God’s word never produced good fruit in their lives. They were like the field described in Hebrews. The writer describes a field receiving God’s blessings/word,
"For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God: but that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned." [Heb 6:7-8]
We want to be good fields. Fields which drink in the word of God, receiving it into our hearts by faith. We want ears to hear, and we want endurance, so that when we have heard God’s word, we bring forth fruit unto our Lord and those around us.